Olga Karatch: Activist for more democracy in Belarus

Peace Award Winner 2019: Grassroots Peace Worker

[Translate to English:] Olga Karatch: Aktivistin für mehr Demokratie in Weißrussland
Olga Karatch has been fighting against the shortcomings and injustices of the system in Belarus since her youth. She is not alone in doing so: Meanwhile, approximately 20 groups belong to the human and civil rights network “Nash Dom”, which she founded.

Political engagement is not well received in Belarus. Especially when it targets the government. Belarus is said to be the "last dictatorship in Europe". Whoever stands up against Alexander Lukaschenko and his policies has to expect repression, will be spied upon by the secret service, intimidated and arrested.

Olga Karatch: Kampagne für die Erlaubnis von Frauen in MännerberufenBut there are also people who stand up against the system. Again and again, activists reveal abuses within the political system in Belarus and organise public campaigns to make politicians accountable.

One of them is Olga Karatch. She was born in Vitebsk in 1979, the fourth largest city in Belarus. At the age of just 26, the politically-active student and oppositional representative of the city council founded an alliance in her home town. It campaigned for the rights of tenants in a state-run building complex: "Nash Dom", in English. "Our House.

Olga Karatch: Kampagne für MenschenrechteToday women and men in more than 15 towns and communities campaign with Nash Dom. One single group has give rise to 20 others, all which give and find solidarity and support through the human and civil rights network. Their credo is: Belarus belongs to the people of the country and not to the political elite. They must therefore be allowed to decide what their society and country should look like.

Nash Dom focus both on local as well as national policies. For this reason, activists regularly demand, for example, accountability from local authorities regarding municipal policies and transparency regarding the allocation of resources. Nash Dom makes use of newsletters, online media and social networks to report on the domestic, foreign and security political developments within the country: for example, they provided information about a congress to which Lukaschenko had invited nationalist and right-wing European parties including the Austrian FPÖ, the French Front National and the German AfD. In addition, the network supports people who become victims of state repression and violence.

Olga Karatch was arrested on numerous occasions. And yet, she is still engaged as a non- parliamentary activist in Belarus. The political scientist is regarded as the head, the face and driving force of Nash Dom – even if today she runs the network as director from the neighbouring country Lithuania. She belongs to a circle of international peace activists who are invited to international assemblies hosted by the project "Global Peace-builders Summit" of the Culture Counts Foundation. In 2010 she received the Radebeul Courage Prize